BATAS SIMBAHAN

Straight to point!

The Importance of Singing

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39. The Christian faithful who gather together as one to await the Lord’s coming are instructed by the Apostle Paul to sing together psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (cf. Col 3:16). Singing is the sign of the heart’s joy (cf. Acts 2:46). Thus Saint Augustine says rightly, “Singing is for one who loves.”1 There is also the ancient proverb: “One who sings well prays twice.”

40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are of themselves meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people is not absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and on holy days of obligation.

In the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, however, preference should be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those to be sung by the priest or the deacon or the lector, with the people responding, or by the priest and people together.2

41. All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other types of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.3

Since faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is fitting that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, set to the simpler melodies.4

__________

1 Cf. Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Musicam sacram, On music in the Liturgy, 5 March 1967, nos. 7, 16: AAS 59 (1967), pp. 302, 305.
2 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 116; cf. also Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Musicam sacram, On music in the Liturgy, 5 March 1967, no. 30.
3 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 54; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Inter Oecumenici, on the orderly carrying out of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 26 September 1964, no. 59: AAS 56 (1964), p. 891; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Musicam sacram, On music in the Liturgy, 5 March 1967, no. 47: AAS 59 (1967), p. 314.
4 Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 30, 34; cf. also Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instruction Musicam sacram, On music in the Liturgy, 5 March 1967, no. 21.

* * *

Father Peter Schineller, an American Jesuit who has ministered for 18 years in Africa and who has authored a “Handbook on Church Music — for Choirs, Priest and Catholic Faithful,” adds:

“1. We are primarily not to sing at or during the Mass, but SING THE MASS — that is, sing the important parts of the Mass in response to the priest. This means that the priority in singing should be the four Acclamations (Alleluia; Holy, Holy, Holy; Acclamation of Faith; and the Great Amen). If there is any singing, these are the first and most important before [the] entrance hymn or Communion hymns (cf. Nos. 7,16,29).

“2. A main focus of the choir is to lead and stir up the voices of all in the congregation. It is not to replace the congregation, not to perform. The choir should be evaluated, not by how well the choir sings, but by how well, how actively, the entire congregation sings (cf. No. 19).

“3. For both of these wishes of the document to be implemented, the burden lies on the priest to lead and to instruct his choir and parishioners. If the priest does not chant the important parts, the people will not sing them (cf. Nos. 13,14,26).”

Paraphrasing a famous statement of Pope Pius XI regarding not praying at Mass but praying the Mass — I would add that not just the acclamations but also the greetings and responses (“The Lord be with you,” etc.), the presidential prayers, the responsorial psalm and the people’s invocation of the Prayer of the Faithful, the Our Father, the Lamb of God and the final blessing should also ideally be sung.

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Written by Erineus

July 21, 2014 at 12:32 am

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